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January 30, 2017

Philly should suspend Gay Pride this year

A call to LGBTs to head to D.C.

It didn’t take long for gay activists to start organizing what promises to be the largest LGBT march on Washington, D.C., in our nation’s history.

The goal?

To send a critical message to the new Trump administration that second-class citizenship based on sexual orientation and gender identity is simply unacceptable, and that the LGBT community (with support from its allies) will not be driven back into the closet or be stripped of the full rights and privileges intended under law.

The LGBT community has made too many important strides in the past eight years to be subjugated with the stroke of Mr. Trump’s pen. But the fact that our new president has already said he would sign a bill (misleadingly dubbed the “First Amendment Defense Act”) that would allow Americans to discriminate based on their religious beliefs raises the stakes for all LGBT Americans.

This is no time to quibble over who gets to have the biggest party. It’s also no time to rest on laurels.

In essence, the law would make it that much easier to refuse service, terminate employment and deny housing simply because someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. It’s completely antithetical to the First Amendment. It’s also the sort of thing you might see happening in the Middle East under Shariah Law – not here where there’s freedom of and from religion to be protected with the vital separation of church and state.

These are life and death issues for LGBT people who still don’t have full protections in this country. With even the most basic same-sex marriage, housing and employment protection for LGBT Americans at risk, David Bruinooge – a gay man from New York who first proposed the idea for an LGBT march on D.C. after being inspired by the Women’s March – said on Facebook, “I thought the gay community should be doing something.”

And it is.

An LGBT march in D.C. is already scheduled for June 11 during Gay Pride Month. It will coincide with D.C. Capital Pride, which over the years has attracted record numbers of revelers to Dupont Circle. It’s also the same weekend as (yikes) Philly Gay Pride. And that has at least one local organizer scrambling to figure out what to do.

Frannie Price, operator of Philly Pride Presents, has already put out a call to action on Facebook asking Philly’s LGBT community to petition Capital Pride (the main organizer of the June march in D.C.) to consider holding this march at a different time (May, July or September, Price suggests).

But this is a bit shortsighted.


Understandably, a lot of work has already been put into Philly Gay Pride by Price and her dedicated team, but given the significance of this national march – and the powerful message such huge numbers of people could potentially send to the Trump administration and world if they show up on the 11th – it may be time to think bigger than Penn’s Landing … just for this year.

So rather than asking that the national LGBT march be rescheduled, Philly Pride Presents may want to consider using its time, talents and funds to organize transportation to D.C. Funneling Philly’s LGBT community into the national event would not only show solidarity, but it would also send the message that all pride events are on board with this much bigger, most important cause.

Yes, it would mean canceling Philly’s local Pride on the riverfront this year – but the empowerment the event has long provided would not be lost by any means. Instead, these efforts toward cultivating an atmosphere of celebration and activism would be channeled into an even more massive community outreach on a national level, an event that would ultimately send a powerful and focused message that LGBT rights matter.

If we have learned anything about the willingness of Philly’s LGBT community to come together – we have seen it during the Orlando Pulse fundraiser last year and even more recently when President Trump visited the city and thousands took to the streets with rainbow flags – then we know that our city’s gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people can and will come together for an event as historic as this. Surely folks can forgo the plastic cups of beer and a parade down Market Street this one June if it means making an even bigger impact on our country and joining with LGBT people and allies from around the world.

This is no time to quibble over who gets to have the biggest party. It’s also no time to rest on laurels.

The LGBT community has had a lot to celebrate in recent years – like the passage of marriage equality nationwide (thanks, Obama), but if this community has any hope of sustaining the progress that has been made, it will require sacrifice and determination, and people coming together in historic numbers.

These are life and death matters, Philly.

So for the sake of LGBT rights nationwide, let’s think bigger than Philly, bigger than Penn’s Landing, and let’s pitch in to help the dedicated, hard-working people of Philly Pride Presents reimagine its role anew this year. Let’s offer to find ways to get even the most economically disenfranchised among us a ticket to march for their pride, for their rights.

And let’s get as many asses to Washington, D.C., on June 11 as we possibly can.

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Natalie Hope McDonald is a contributor to